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Gus Malzahn likes winning combination in Auburn's start
Sept. 29, 2014

Gus Malzahn plots some more Auburn offense with Rhett Lashlee

By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala.  The defense showed some early muscle. The special teams scored a touchdown. And then, the offense caught up.
That proved to be a winning formula in Auburn's 45-17 win over Louisiana Tech last weekend.
"The sign of a good team is when each group complements each other," said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn on his Tiger Talk radio show Monday night. No. 5 Auburn will now take that into Saturday's 6 p.m. game against No. 15 LSU in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The Tigers did most of their good work on offense last Saturday late in the first half and in the fourth quarter. The defense was solid throughout, and Quan Bray returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown.
Still, the offense was really doing OK, too. It scored five touchdowns.
"I think we did improve our tempo. I thought our guys' urgency was better," Malzahn said.
Malzahn reminded the listening audience that the team that led the nation in rushing last year was still in the Top 20 in rushing after four games this year. Auburn is ranked 17th in rushing.
"I don't think we can lose sight of that," Malzahn said.

"I feel good about where we are. I'm confident we’ll improve. This year, unlike last year, I feel a lot more confident in our passing game, too. We don’t just have to rely on one thing."
But the Louisiana Tech win came with injuries. Linebackers Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzy were lost for most of the game. Others went down, too.
 "We're a little banged up, there's no doubt about that. We'll see how the week goes," Malzahn said.
Frost and McKinzy are the two starting linebackers. 
"We're definitely hoping" they'll be healthy enough to play Saturday, Malzahn said. "We really need our best players on the field."
And on the game itself?
"We know we're going to get their best. They're going to get our best. We're going to see who is better," Malzahn said.
Malzahn also said…

• Quan Bray was named the SEC's special teams player of the week Monday, thanks to his 76-yard punt return for a TD last week.
Two touchdown catches didn't hurt, either.
"He's established himself as a big-play guy in the passing game. I think that will really help us as an offense moving forward."
On the punt return "I think we had five true freshman on the field that were very critical to some blocks up front. That's very exciting for me."

 • He respects LSU freshman quarterback Brandon Harris, who was named the starter by coach Les Miles on Monday.  

"We recruited him. We know he's very talented. He's a dual-threat quarterback. He's got an NFL arm."
Harris came off the bench to lead LSU to seven scoring drives in last Saturday's 63-7 win over New Mexico State.
• The opposition would have trouble stealing his offensive signals, considering the Tigers use pictures, colors, cards and other methods to send in plays.
"I believe we have foolproof system," Malzahn said.
• Noting Auburn moved offensive linemen around before the season, and again last week, there was a strong endorsement for J.B. Grimes: "We have the best offensive line coach in college football. It's not even close."
• On freshman receiver Stanton Truitt making his debut last Saturday after putting aside a hamstring injury:  "He's just too good an athlete not to help us on special teams and giving us depth at wide receiver."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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